Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Its alive!!

Indeed I am alive :)

Between the holidays and launching my Etsy shop, I have been very busy lately.  I will be revamping and refreshing this blog over the next week.  Stayed tuned for lots of new stuff! 

Visit me on etsy: http://www.etsy.com/shop/bysteph

Monday, November 15, 2010


The holidays are upon us!... but have no fear, it is not too late to start a tatting project for a gift or to adorn your home for the holidays.  Here are a couple pattern books I have purchased through Amazon that I recommend.  They are super inexpensive, for intermediate level tatters, and great buys!!

Christmas Angels and Other Tatting Patterns (Dover Needlework Series)

Tatted Snowflakes (Dover Needlework Series)

Also, I just purchased Sharon's new ebook, Tatted Flurries.  Although I haven't yet had the chance to dig into it, but I am very excited to check out her 3D designs!

Full Steam Ahead

This looks to be another increasingly busy week.  I am preparing a bunch of toys and clothing for a Kids Holiday Consignment Sale, still trying to finish my Secret Santa items for the InTatters Holiday Exchange, and finish a photo album of my family for my husband's grandma who will be visiting for an early Thanksgiving at the end of the week. 

Yet, I made a commitment to blog regularly.  So, although my posts may be sporadic this week, there will be fresh content!

Pretty in Pink, and Purple - Stage 2: Tatting

After several trials with this pattern I thought this piece would be a breeze to complete, but the slightest change gave me a run for my money!  In the past trial pieces I shared, I added the beads prior to my shuttle winding.  This is typically one of the easiest ways to get the beads on the chain; when needing beads I could just slide them into place and stitch to hold.  However, in the trial pieces I was using Swarovski crystals and the final piece I chose to incorporate pearls.  Pearl beads are not something I typically have worked with in the past but I didn't think they would be very different than other beads.  When sliding the beads on the thread I noticed that they were not as easily gliding over the thread.  The holes in the beads were plenty large enough, but they seemed to stick to the thread a bit.  In a hurry to get started, I just slid them down the ball thread and got to work.  However, after finishing the first petal in the pattern, I realized this may be a bigger problem than I thought.  I attempted to close the final ring, and spent several minutes trying to get the thread to untwist so the ring would close cleanly.  As I continued on through to the next two petals of the pattern, the problem continued to get worse until when closing one of the smallest rings, the twisted thread snapped.

GAH!  I hate thread breaks, they slow down the whole process. 

TIP: Ring Closing Thread Breaks
With a break like this it is really important to backup your work to ensure the most beautiful and strong repair possible.  In a piece like the one pictured above, I recommend using a scissor to cut the ring in half before the joining picot (but as close to this picot as possible).  You should then be able to pull apart the stitches easily enough after doing this to get back to the base of the previous chain.  This will look something like the picture below.

DO NOT try and tie your shuttle thread back on to the broken thread.  It is nearly impossible to work over knots going forward with the piece.  In addition, knotting will cause a lumpy section in your work which will detract from its beauty.  Instead, trim your shuttle thread at the breakage point to make sure you have a clean, non-frayed end.  Wrap the shuttle thread around your hand in the normal way to prepare to make a ring.  Simply pull the broken thread through the middle of the turned stitches as you continue with your ring.  I would continue doing this for at least 3-5 stitches to ensure the strength and durability of the join.  Once, finished with those few stitches, trim the broken thread and complete your ring.  When reversing work to complete the next chain, you will apply the same technique to the new thread's tail.  As you will see below, using this technique will result in a perfectly lovely fix!

Well, despite the several thread breaks, things all came together finally last night.  Here is the final piece prior to being added to the headband:

...and here is the final piece, modeled by my daughters.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pretty in Pink, and Purple - Stage 2: Tatting (Preview)

Feeling jazzed after my last blog post last night, I couldn't resist starting to tat into the early morning hours. Here is a preview:

As you can see, I have chosen to string the beads for the chains ahead of time.  This is one of the simplest ways to get the bead placement done on the chain that I have found.  Also, in this case, this allows me a greater flexibilty to transport the work with me.  No extra bags and worrying about losing beads.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pretty in Pink, and Purple - Stage 1: Planning

For my first Etsy piece, I wanted to make something fun, eye-catching, and purchase-worthy.  Digging through my mounds of crafting supplies for inspiration, I came across some pink pearls and purple tatting thread which I thought looked lovely together.  Every little girl needs a little something special to wear in their hair!

Color Palette
As you can see from my inspiration above, I am not afraid of color.  In fact, I think adding a little (or a lot!) of color to a tatted piece helps it look more modern and fun.  So, I have chosen a color palette based on my inspiration above.  I plan for the tatting itself to just be the darker purple, but I designed the fun little graphic below to give you a snapshot of my color palettes for projects going forward.

From the top image you can see most of the materials I plan to integrate into this headband; a stretchy infant-sized purple headband, pink and white pearl beads, a light pink dyed hackle pad from The Feather Place, and size 20 Lizabeth tatting thread in Lilac Dk. (col. 641) from Handy Hands Tatting.  Handy Hands, and their Lizabeth thread, both come highly recommended from me.  I used to use nothing by DMC Pearle Cotton in a size 5, however, as it became increasingly harder to find in the size I like I tried ordering the Lizabeth thread from Handy Hands.  Now, I use nothing but!

Tatted Medallion
In the spirit of winter season, I decided to integrate a vintage tatted snowflake pattern into my design.  I am not sure what portion of the pattern may or may not be copyrighted, so I will not be sharing the pattern this time.  However, I have done a few test snowflakes to practice at the pattern prior to this project.  These are not all complete, and I have been avoiding sewing in the ends, but this will give you a good approximation of what the tatted medallion for the headband will look like.

Come back tomorrow for this project's Stage 2, and my favorite part, the tatting!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Squish Bread

"Squish Bread" is what my three year old calls my Squash Bread.  It is a very basic recipe based on a standard Banana Bread recipe, from my Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book, with a few alterations. 

Reason to love this recipe: Do you eat your daily recommended amount of fruits and vegies?  Any chance to sneek in an extra serving of fruit, and some variety in the fruits you eat, should be a welcome one!

  • 1 medium butternut squash (equivalent to approx. 1 1/2 cups of mashed butternut squash)
    Note: Using this amount of squash will give you a very delicously moist bread.  However, if you prefer a dryer consistency for your bread, I recommend increasing the amount of flour used or decreasing the amount of squash.
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • (optional) 1/4 chopped walnuts
Preparing the Squash
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease baking sheet.
  2. Halve your squash.  Clean out the strings and the seeds. 
  3. Bake squash for approximately an hour.  Let cool, then trim off skin.
  4. Divide softened squash into managable pieces.  Mash until you have a smooth, even textured squash.  Any chunks will end up in your bread, so feel free to run squash through a food processor for the best results.
  5. Set aside to finish cooling.
  1. Grease 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pans and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients except sugar (flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  make a well in the center of the mixture and set aside.
  3. In a separate medium-size bowl, beat eggs.
  4. Mix squash, sugar, and butter with beaten eggs.
  5. Add squash mixture to flour mixture all at once.  Mix only until flour mixture is evenly moistened.
  6. Fold in nuts, if desired.
  7. Bake for 60-90 minutes depending on your pan type and size.  Test by inserting a knife into the center of the bread while baking.  If the knife comes out clean, your bread is done! 
    Tip: If your bread seems to be browning faster than the center is baking, cover loosely with foil.
  8. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes.
  9. Remove from pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
  10. Wrap and store overnight before slicing.